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PFR Report

Fungicides on Wheat

Published on Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The topic of applying fungicide on wheat usually sparks many questions and concerns. Many farmers apply fungicides and often wonder if it was worth the investment. When Beck’s Practical Farm Research (PFR)® team tests fungicides, it’s done based on product timing recommendations. 

Most application recommendations will occur between the Feekes 9 (flag leaf) and Feekes 10.5.1. (beginning of flowering) growth stages. Timing is the key to success when it comes to making sure these products are profitable. There are a couple different areas of timing that I’m referring to. The first timing is also known as the growth stages. The Feekes 9 (flag leaf) growth stage is relatively easy to identify, but the Feekes 10.5, 10.5.1, 10.5.2, and 10.5.3 (flowering) growth stages take more time and some up-close scouting of your fields. 

Remember to closely examine the heads of primary tillers at multiple locations in the field for the presence of anthers, which are often identified as the yellowish part of the flower hanging from the head (shown below). 

If no anthers are observed, then your wheat may still be at the Feekes 10.5 growth stage. When you see the first few anthers hanging from the middle portion of the head, you know you are at the Feekes 10.5.1 growth stage. If anthers are seen hanging for the middle and top portions of the head, your wheat is at Feekes 10.5.2. And if the anthers are along the entire head, your wheat is at Feekes 10.5.3. Make sure to base your assessments on the presence of fresh anthers, as anthers may remain hanging from the head well after Feekes 10.5.3 and well into grain fill.

The second timing we talk about is the arrival of diseases in a field or disease pressure. Scouting will be the key factor in identifying this type of application timing. Actual field scouting for diseases is extremely beneficial, but I really want farmers to think about scouting for information. Most diseases are tracked and reported on by different agencies and/or universities as they move throughout the US. Usually your local extension and/or cooperatives can help you with different resources that are on the internet or are easily accessible in the field. There are also many apps for your smart phone that will automatically notify you when disease pressure is approaching your area. Scouting for this type of information now will hopefully allow you to stay current or possibly ahead on disease movement. Knowing the disease before its arrival (and the approximate timing of that arrival) will be helpful when looking to determine if your fungicide will really pay off.

The chart below is a fungicide efficacy chart provided by the University of Kentucky. The notation of fungal resistance and applications after disease pressure is detected in the foot notes and needs to be taken into consideration before selecting and applying a fungicide.

Becks PFR team has tested many different fungicides over the years. The fungicides Caramba® from BASF Corporation and Prosaro® from Bayer Crop Science are PFR Proven™ products, meaning they have found to provide consistent yield gains for three or more years and averaged a positive return on investment (ROI) over those years. These should be considered a starting point for testing on your own farm.

Becks PFR has tested and will continue to test fungicides in many different aspects such as application methods, fungicide chemistries, additives and multiple applications. Fungicides can be extremely beneficial in the face of disease pressure, but remember, they are not yield boosters. They are protection for your yield potential. Proper application timing and scouting will heavily influence your ROI and success of your fungicides!


Chris Robinson | KY PFR Location Lead


Practical Farm Research (PFR)® and PFR Proven ™ are trademarks of Beck’s Superior Hybrids, Inc. Caramba® is a registered trademark of BASF. Prosaro® is a registered trademark of Bayer.


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Jim Schwartz

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